Calling a federal judge's reasoning disturbing, California's attorney general on Thursday appealed the decision that found the state's assault weapons ban to be unconstitutional. In his ruling issued Friday, US District Judge Roger Benitez said an AR-15, like a Swiss army knife, could be used "for both home and battle." That assault rifle has been used to kill people in recent US mass shootings. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the comment was a "slap in the face to the families who've lost loved ones to this weapon." Benitez wrote that the ban, which the state has had in place for three decades, breached the rights of gun owners without succeeding in curbing mass shootings. Newsom attended Attorney General Rob Bonta's announcement Thursday at a San Francisco trauma hospital, NBC reports, as did activists and a trauma surgeon.
Newsom called Benitez "a wholly owned subsidiary of the gun lobby and the National Rifle Association." Bonta said Thursday that the judge's opinion, including "equating assault weapons to Swiss Army knives and false claims that COVID-19 vaccines have killed more people than mass shootings, was shocking." Bonta and others cited evidence that the ban has saved lives, per the Los Angeles Times. One study showed a sixfold increase in the number of people shot when an assault weapon is used. California's homicide rate is 37% below the national rate, the head of the gun control group Brady pointed out. Assault weapons inflict "absolute devastation to the human body," said the trauma surgeon, Andre Campbell. "It is a gun used for warfare," he said, "and it should not be used on the streets of the United States." The ban will remain in effect during appeals. (Read more assault weapon ban stories.)